Why Run a Design Sprint?

This year at the 99U Conference, The Design Gym and I had the opportunity to lead a Studio Session in which we discussed why Design Sprints are important and explored how to customize them for you and your team. The following two-post series is a high-level share out of what we discussed.

We’ve all developed a great idea that has suffered an untimely death. There are tons of reasons why even the best ideas don’t get the buy-in they deserve—bureaucracy, organizational inertia, initiative fatigue, the list goes on and on.

That’s because getting to a great idea is only half the battle. The other half is the process you use to develop that idea, including who’s involved, what activities you conduct and how you collaborate. When a process feels flat and lacks organizational excitement and momentum, the culprit is often, what we call, a lack of project mojo (a.k.a. a project’s sex appeal).

To be successful, you can’t just focus on the quality of your idea, you also need to focus on the quality of your process. (Tweet this!)

That’s one of the reasons we love Design Sprints—they’re a great process for helping you both generate killer ideas and move those ideas forward. In other words, Design Sprints help you get that project mojo going. (So many memes, so little time.) They can also help you protect against three common issues that kill project mojo:

1. No one gives a shit about your project.

People have to care about your project in order to commit their time and energy to making it happen. If there’s no personal investment in your project, it doesn’t matter how great your idea is or what else you do—your project will probably die.

2. Your project is too complex.

Let’s say you get people to care and they’re engaged in your project. If the project is too big or lacks a clear focus, it won’t matter. People will feel confused and overwhelmed. And ultimately, enthusiasm around your project will dissipate like helium in a week-old birthday balloon.

3. People don’t have time to think.

Finally, even if the right people are bought in and your project has a tight objective, you still might struggle. That’s because people are crazy busy (btw, thanks for reading this far). We’ve all got a lot going on. And the constant starts and stops, eventually, make it impossible to build positive momentum and morale around your project.

Bring In the Design Sprint

A Design Sprint is an immersive experience where a team collaborates, focuses, and makes progress on a problem using design thinking methods in rapid succession. Design Sprints are a useful tool for combatting project mojo killers. They’re like an extra-large can of Red Bull—a way to kickstart a project that’s at risk of losing its mojo.

So, maybe a Design Sprint is the right tool for your project. Now what? Time to talk customization. Hop on over to the next post to find out more about how you can design the right Sprint for you and your organization. Spoiler alert: It involves an alliterative tool.

Jason Cha

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